I have always found it interesting, and instructive, to stroll through the day-to-day lives of a community as recorded in its newspapers long before my eyes opened on this world.
The collection of newspapers in Auburn’s White River Valley Museum offers visitors precisely this pleasure, and we have decided in turn to offer it to you, our readers.
So, here’s a small sampling of what the old Auburn Globe Republican had to say about goings-on in the Auburn community 100 years ago this week. The following preserves errors and misspellings.
Under a headline declaring, “School election in District 162 held up til May,” a front-page story detailed a recent court decision that had made it necessary.
Proceeding on, the reader learned that the King County Commissioners had just awarded the contract for the Neely Bridge over the Green River — east of Auburn’s city limits — to Ward and Ward of Seattle, which had submitted the lowest among 11 bids at $11,452.
In the same section, the reader may have chuckled to learn that Enumclaw businessman James Barnes had just been fined $15 “for alleged swearing in conversation with Mrs. Daisy Erickson.”
A regular section titled City News chronicled the mundane doings of ordinary city folk to a degree that cannot be found today, as follows: “Miss Mary and Miss Beatrice Bond of Seattle motored out Wednesday and visited Mrs. Norton Lunn.” Further on, the paper reported: “The little two-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs John Worster is now on the road to recovery after a long siege of pneumonia.”
In those far off days, clubs and organizations played large roles in the lives of the community, as their prominent place in the paper proved by advertising regular meetings of The Fraternal Order of Eagles, the International Order of Oddfellows, the Knights of Pythias, the International Order of Moose Green River Lodge, the New Commercial Club of Auburn and the Cyclamen Social Club.
On page 8, a shoe emporium called The Toggery was advertising high-quality leather shoes for $7.50. Obviously a steep price to pay for footwear back then because the Toggery felt obligated to add a note to salve the angst of any prospective wallets: “It’s not just your pay but what you get for your pay that counts.”
Given the quality of the aforementioned shoes, if anyone who bought them had a notion of sallying forth and braving the chilly February air to check out the “CAMP LEWIS MANURE for sale, $1.50 per ton, Camp Lewis J.N. Skinner Puyallup RFD. 1 box 28,” he’d have been well advised to change those spendy shoes first.
Moving on, the Northern Clay Company trumpeted “four acres for gardening or pasture north of its terra cotta plant.”
In the sports section, an exasperated sports writer lamented that the flailing fists and elbows attached to the Auburn High School boys’ basketball team “failed to show class in an easy game” against Enumclaw’s boys the previous Friday night, although the green and white players did beat their rivals to the east, 32 to 12.
“Thirty five minutes of the Auburn Enumclaw Game high school basketball game played at Enumclaw Friday night was devoted to pushing, shoving, holding, batting the ball, and performing other little stunts that aren’t included in a first-class exhibition of the sport,” huffed the high-minded writer. “The other five minutes were spent in flashes of real basketball.”
Finally, indignant, and possibly moist, one Auburn resident issued some thieving, no good, bumbershoot-swiping scalawag this feisty notice: “Warning: the party that took the umbrella from the R.S Parker porch Feb. 14 is known, and unless same is returned to owner immediately, prosecution will follow.”
Let us know if you’d like to see more of these newspaper time capsules.
Robert Whale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.